Springfield, MO

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Southwest Missouri News--Branson

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by Carol Harris, Branson area, and Marti Attoun, Joplin area

Gotcha! Lazer Tag, with its space-age techno look of alien pods, neon colors, mazes, blinking vests and laser guns, was scheduled to open Jan. 23 in Branson.

Mike and Lori Charland, a former school principal and teacher, respectively, from Junction City, Kan., moved to Branson last summer to begin renovation on the former 700-seat '50s Variety Theater, originally built in 1985, just off of West Highway 76 behind the Riverboat Hotel.

Mike Charland said that he and his wife, along with co-owners Greg and Deb Lumb of Junction City, remodeled the 12,000-square-foot theater themselves.

Gotcha! Lazer Tag includes a 3,800-square-foot, changeable-panel maze room built by Hollister Illumination Technologies, two group party rooms, an arcade/game area and a concession stand.

Charland said the laser tag maze can accommodate up to 20 players at one time.

The players wear computerized vests and carry computerized laser guns that tabulate their shooting scores. A score sheet is printed for each player showing his or her ranking when the 10- to 15-minute game is finished.

"It's like a live action video game," Charland said. Leagues for local residents, ages 8 and up, will also be forming soon, he said. Gotcha! Lazer Tag will be open daily through the winter.

Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday; and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.

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